Haircuts: Charlie McGrath

Sadly I don’t have enough hair left now  on my head  to occupy any barber for more than a few minutes  –  but there was a time when I could rival Jedward for high-rising quiffs. 

There’s one consolation:  I surely no longer need to dread the ‘bowl dock’ of Charlie McGrath of William Street that brought howls of ridicule from companions some fifty years ago. 

Parents were insensitive then to children’s feelings or sense of fashion especially when set against the comparative savings to be made! 

To put it bluntly Charlie was cheap. 

Now I don’t like to malign the man who has long since gone to a better place, and especially since his sister – and even more especially his niece – was very dear to me in those days! But the truth’s the truth.

Children in those days were neither to be seen nor heard. 

There were so many of us in our family that a weekend stock-take was the best there was on offer. 

One week in summer I left the house on Monday afternoon and didn’t reappear till Friday morning.

‘Would you quit yer running in and out?’ was the only greeting I got. 

I was talking about haircuts.

Charlie charged half what Jack Gorman of Monaghan Street did! 

I had to make my appeal to my parents on personal security grounds, citing fear of street gangs (parents were convinced that all teenagers bar their own were young hoodlums) that had to be negotiated between the Meadow and William Street, the return jaunt being the more perilous as the said ‘thugs’ amused themselves by attacking the newly-shorn ‘monk’. 

In truth, I was in greater danger from my own Meadow companions who would instantly expel the scalped Mohican from their gang.

This is the reason that my early experiences of haircuts were acquired in Jack Gorman’s, just across the road from the house where I was born, 43 Monaghan Street.

I was often at the skilful hands of one Seamus Jennings.

Seamus was a fresh-faced, nicely groomed young man then, with a fashionable quiff. He reminded me for all the world of James Dean …

(no! Not the River Street lad we’d meet at The Hobbies. The film star!) 

There were no female hairdressers in barbers’ shops and I preferred not to have young Hughie who was still then in his apprenticeship. 

His father was OK but had no craic suitable for a young buck like me.

I tried him out one time.

‘I notice you asked that last young man if he wanted ‘something for the weekend’. 

Why didn’t you say that to me?’

I was concerned that there was something going free and I was missing out.

‘I’ll have none of yer aul lip, young McCullagh.

Don’t forget I know your parents all my life and I won’t be slow telling them about yer cheek!’

Some people just don’t know how to be sociable!


… more later …




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